Gaining nearly as much acceptance as going green, shopping smart has become the new normal and a practice that is gaining in popularity; even the reality television explosion includes shows on saving big. Whether you are a novice at couponing or a certified coupon queen, there are significant savings to be had if you take a comprehensive and organized approach to your shopping. The largest areas of focus are couponing, both online and through print media; online shopping, to take advantage of internet-only exclusives like Kohls coupon codes; and incentive shopping options, including cash back reward programs.

Using Coupons To Save Big

The following tips are designed to help any individual to either begin using coupons towards big savings, or to assist seasoned professionals at becoming even more efficient. While a given tip may benefit one group more than the other, all can be used to improve one’s savings power:

Get Organized – Regardless of your experience level, nothing is more important than using an easy system. This may involve using a color-coded accordion file, a binder or something more personal, but if you cannot quickly find your coupons, it is pretty hard to use them.

Join Coupon Websites – As the popularity of couponing grows, there are an increased number of sites that offer online and e-mail coupons. Some of these will provide coupon codes, while others will send special promotional materials.

Follow Your Favorite Retailers on FaceBook – An increasing number of retailers are offering FaceBook coupons to their followers in an effort to promote social networking. These offers may only be good for a day, so checking regularly is a good idea.

Use Lists Effectively – There are two basic approaches, each which can work. Your choice will depend on your circumstances and personal preferences. First, you can construct your shopping list and then search for coupons to discount the products you want. This has the advantage that you get the things you want at a savings. The other approach is to assemble available coupons from your favorite retailers and construct your shopping list around the available savings. This means you may be eating what the store is discounting, but the advantage is that savings tend to be maximized. The hybrid approach, where you start with your list and substitute as coupons are found, can work as well, but this may be the most time consuming of the options.

Shop Online

A significant push has been made by retailers to drive business online. This is largely the result of reduced overhead for the companies that sell their products without the need for a physical location. The result can be significant savings using these tips:

Shop Around – Unless the product is brand-specific to a single retailer, checking multiple sites may offer better prices. Be sure to compare the final price with shipping, because in many cases, free shipping justifies a slightly higher sale price for the item. The final price paid is the only one that matters to you.r bottom line.

Use Apps – Even when shopping in a store, there are an increasing number of apps available for smart phones that can quickly tell you the price of an item at multiple retailers in your general geographic area. On large ticket items, this can add up to real money.

Rewards Programs

Through coupon codes, cash back offers and other rewards, many credit card companies and retailers are providing shoppers with incentives to shop at one place over others. Taking advantage of these offers can provide more savings than you might think:

Think Totals – It is important to make across the board comparisons, so determining the best price can involve some work. If your grocery store helps you earn points toward free gas, the gas savings needs to be considered when doing price comparisons. Only when the final tally is determined can proper price comparisons be made.

Never Overpay for a Reward – While rewards are great to receive, they should never cost you more than they save. For example, a 2% cash back offer on a $1000 television is $20. If a competitor is selling the same model for $950, the reward is actually coming at a cost of $30. Misdirection is an advertisers best friend, but the savvy shopper is never fooled.

Overall, it is becoming easier to be a smart shopper. Between technology, social networks and simple attention to detail, anyone can find ways to save.

Disclaimer: The author is affiliated with Fatwallet.com. SocialMoms was not compensated in any way for this article. This article was edited by SocialMoms staff to meet our editorial and quality guidelines.